>So tell me, is it a coincidence that the first time we manage to beat Histon is also the first time we didn’t play a horses-for-courses team against them?
In three previous games Saunders has played a back four consisting totally of centre backs, and the fact we haven’t scored in any of those games is surely not unrelated.
I’ve always taken it as a reasonable rule of thumb that the best way to beat a long ball side is to impose your style of play on the game. If the match is played on the floor, they’ll struggle; if it’s played in the air we’ll struggle.
Selecting four centre backs at the back, to my eyes, accepts defeat in that battle before it has even begun. It’s admitting the game will be played on their terms and adopting a damage limitation strategy from the start. It’s an approach which reveals a lack of confidence in your team; would Alex Ferguson pick his tallest team if he drew Histon in the cup? I rather suspect he’d back his team to have enough about them to sort Histon out without resorting to such tactics, you know! (Mind you, I bet Rafa Benitez would be tempted to pick a specialised team for such a match, which perhaps tells you more about his merits relative to Ferguson’s than anything else!)
Dean Saunders has started admitting lately that he’s learning a lot about management. I hope his team selection on Saturday shows he’s taken on board this crucial lesson; it’ll help him enormously next season if he has.